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Carolina Food Co.

Traditional Plan FAQ

Spare yourself the indigestion; know the basics of how your traditional meal plan works. See common questions people often have about traditional meal plans.


How Do Traditional Meal Plans Work?

Meal Plans, Meal Swipes and Meal Plan Dollars (MPD) 

For unlimited dining, your meal swipe can be used at Bates Diner, Honeycomb Café and Gibbes Court Bistro. Swipe and enjoy all-you-care-to-eat per meal.

Students can use up to four meal swipes in a day. A swipe can be used multiple times per meal period with a 30-minute pause between swipes and up to the allotted cash equivalency at on-campus retail restaurants.  If your meal total is at or below the retail allowance amount, we'll swipe your card and you'll be on your way. If your meal total is above the retail allowance amount, you can pay the remaining balance using MPD, Carolina Cash, or a debit/credit card. It's that simple. 

Dining Periods

There are four dining periods per day. You are able to swipe multiple times in a meal period, with a 30-minute window in between swipes.

Fall 2020 Cash Equivalency for Meal Swipes in Retail 

Meal Period Time Meal Allowance
Breakfast (6 a.m. - 10:59 a.m.)  $6.19
Lunch (11 a.m. - 3:59 p.m.)  $7.29
Dinner (4 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.)  $7.49
Late Night (12:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.)  $7.49

*Cash Equivalency is only allowed at our retail locations


Residential Dining Door Rates (non-meal plan swipe)

 Meal Period Time  Door Rate (without tax)
 Breakfast (6 a.m. - 10:59 a.m.)  $7.12
 Lunch (11 a.m. - 3:59 p.m.)  $9.14
 Dinner (4 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.)  $10.77

*Guests with Declining Balance meal plans or paying with Meal Plan Dollars pay the door rate at our residential locations without tax.
*Guests without a meal plan will pay the door rate plus tax.



When do meal plan weeks begin?

The meal plan week starts Thursday morning with breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and ends Wednesday night with late night at 3 a.m. Meals not used by Wednesday late night will be forfeited. Meal plans reload for the week before breakfast on Thursday. Students on a meal plan can use multiple swipes in meal period and up to four in a day.

Practicing Meal Plan Math

Example One
Stan is a full-time student who plans to eat most of his meals on campus. Here's what would happen if he choose the Garnet 14 Silver meal plan.

Stan's Typical Eating Pattern
Friday: 4 meals
Saturday: 3 meals
Sunday: 2 meals
Monday: 3 meals
Tuesday: Uh oh! Stan only has 2 meals left before the next meal plan week. Even worse, he has no meal plan dollars to use as a back up.

Stan should consider upgrading to a larger meal plan based on his typical eating pattern.

Example Two
Sarah is a full-time student who plans to eat most of her meals on campus. Here's what would happen if she choose the Carolina 10 Gold meal plan.

Sarah's Typical Eating Pattern
Most Mornings: $5 MPD for breakfast at Starbucks
Friday: 2 meals
Saturday: 2 meals
Sunday: 2 meals
Monday: 2 meals
Tuesday: 2 meals Whoops! Sarah does not have any meals past Tuesday. Even worse, she'll run out of MPD early in the semester.

Sarah should consider upgrading to a larger plan based on her normal eating pattern.


Frequently Asked Questions About Traditional Meal Plans

I have special dietary needs; what do I do?

If you have a food allergy or intolerance, it is important to learn about our choices. All-you-care-to-eat restaurants include a vegan bar, and gluten-free options are clearly marked. For additional information, please contact Student Disability Resource Center at 803-777-6142.

How does my meal plan work?

Depending on your meal plan, you are allotted a certain number of meal swipes per week (21, 16, or 14). You can use multiple meal swipes with a 30-minute pause in a meal period and up to four meal swipes per day. Meal plan swipes and meal plan dollars expire at the conclusion of each semester.

What happens to meal swipes I do not use?

Unused meal swipes expire at the end of the week, after the Wednesday late night period. Meal plans expire at the end of the semester.

How do meal plan dollars (MPD) work?

Meal plan dollars (MPD) are designed to help pay for snacks, coffee, fruit or overages at retail locations when using a meal swipe. MPD can also be used to pay for overages when a purchase goes over the allotted swipe amount. Unused MPD expire at the end of the semester. 

Where can I use my meal plan?

Your meal plan can be used at any of our 31+ on-campus dining locations. Meal plans can even be used at Starbucks, except for the Starbucks in the University of South Carolina Bookstore.

Do I get whatever I want with my meal swipe?

If dining in one of our all-you-care-to-eat dining halls (Gibbes Court Bistro, Bates Diner or Honeycomb Cafe), each meal swipe is unlimited. If dining in a retail location, depending on the meal period, you have an allotted amount to spend: 

Breakfast: $6.19
Lunch: $7.29
Dinner: $7.49
Late Night: $7.49

If you go over that amount you can pay with MPD, Carolina Cash, cash or credit/debit.

Can I change my meal plan during the semester?

You can always upgrade your meal plan at any point in the semester. You can only downgrade your meal plan until the end of the first week of classes. If you upgrade mid-semester the price will be prorated.

Is my meal plan refundable if I am suspended during the semester?

Your meal plan is not refundable if you are suspended during the semester. 

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